It is generally admitted that a great many English peerages have a very dishonorable origin — some royal mistress, some low — born money-lender.
Lord St. Leonards
, who lately went to prison for the once high-bred offence of seducing a servant-maid, was the grandson of Sir Edward Sugden
, Lord-chancellor, whose father was the court barber.
But the common claim is that, whatever the origin may be, the associations and traditions of high birth have an elevating influence — that noblesse oblige
, and all the rest of it. I believe that nothing can be shallower than this theory.
One makes a mistake who reads Thackeray
's “Four Georges” and thinks of it as revealing a condition of things wholly passed by. Any one who reads the admirable sketch, “London society,” by “A foreign resident,” will get a companion picture.
But apart from such extremes, what an extraordinary self — revelation is that contained in the autobiography of Lord Ronald Gower
, a man born in the purple, or as near it as England
can get — the early resident of the very toy-palace minutely described in “Lothair” --a man whose reminiscences fairly glitter with great names!
And what is the outcome of it all?
A petty scribbler in Vanity Fair
who by his own confession serves up his hosts to ridicule in print if their houses happen to smell of the roast mutton on which their